May 19, 2020

This pot of money is there to help the jobless. Florida can’t figure out how to tap it [McClatchy D.C.]

This post was last updated on December 8, 2021. As new policies are announced, FPI will update this page.

As Florida’s response to COVID-19 takes front and center, concern grows for low-income families who struggle to take precautions against the spread of the virus. Although Congress has passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act to address, at least in part,  the public health crisis and economic fallout from COVID-19, many barriers continue to keep struggling families from accessing the assistance they need during the pandemic. As Florida initiates policies implementing the Act and addressing other barriers to the safety net, FPI will update this form. When available, hyperlinks are provided to agency documents or statements that provide greater detail  about the new policy.

On March 22, 2020, FPI and 44 other organizations sent a letter to Governor DeSantis, leadership in the Legislature and agency heads to urge action on 47 specific policy changes to reduce unnecessary barriers for Florida’s safety net programs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See the letter here.

Kevin Hall of McClatchy writes:

"Fifty-three days after Congress passed the CARES Act, Floridian Tim Young still waits on jobless benefits. He fits in a particularly uncomfortable niche: people who had exhausted their annual state benefits before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the nation.

Federal emergency funds were set aside to fill this gap, but Florida has yet to put in place a mechanism for Young and others to receive it.


It’s unclear how many Floridians have exhausted their 12 weeks of jobless benefits before or after stay-at-home orders spread and mass layoffs began. More than 1.4 million workers in Florida filed new unemployment claims in the weeks between March 15 and May 12, but state websites offer no statistics on average duration of unemployment now, or in recent years.

'You can’t get numbers out of the department. It is an unknown that is troubling,' said Cindy Huddleston, an attorney and senior policy director for the Florida Policy Institute, a center-left research group that advocates for more focused state spending. 'I wish I could tell you I had numbers. I am also curious.'

Huddleston called problems with the euphemistically named Reemployment Assistance program a 'poorly kept secret.'"


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